By Itohan Abara-Laserian
Lagos – The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) on Tuesday launched it’s “Wealth is Here” campaign aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural development to stem youth migration out of the country.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the campaign was launched in Lagos to engage youths in agriculture and turn their creative ideas to successful agribusiness enterprises.The Chairman, Board of Directors, BATNF, Chief Kola Jamodu, said that the campaign had youths and agriculture as its core which was apt because they were the future hope of Nigeria.Jamodu said that human and natural resources were pillars of any strong economy which successive governments of the country had leveraged on.He, however, decried that in spite of all the programnes by governments and, especially the most recent of the current adminiatrations known as the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, Nigeria was still the largest importers of agricultural produce.“Although our agriculture sector is the highest employer of labour, it is not the highest contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for many reasons.“On one hand, there are predominantly elderly and uniform smallholder farmers in the field who live in rural communities. Their level of education, their ability to accept and adapt good agricultural practices for high yields, climate change resilience and optimum profits.“On the other hand, many of the educated Nigerian youth are not interested in agriculture but seem pretty-occupied on migrating to Canada, Europe or any country that looks more promising,” Jamodu said.He said to drive growth in agriculture, carefully thought out solutions and programmes were being articulated for the youth to get involved, while the wealth is here campaign will support the solutions.He said: “The activities of the foundation is to drive the narrative that there is wealth in agriculture and Nigeria.”Meanwhile, the Managing Director of BAT Nigeria, Yarub Al-Bahrani, has said that it had been an incredible 17 years journey since the foundation was established in 2002 building capacity and supporting smallholder farmers in rural locations.Al-Bahrani said: “With an investment of over N1.6 billion in sustainable agriculture, the foundation has reached over 36,000 farmers, but the impact of this is threatened by mass migration of Nigerian youths to other countries that romise economic liberation.“In Quarter 2 (Q2) of this year, agriculture contributed 21.9 per cent to national GDP and was ranked third highest of non-oil sector.“We must change the narrative that Nigeria has little to offer the youth because our story of wealth and prosperity will be impossible without the active participation of young people who represent 70 per center of the population.
“The wealth is here campaign is an initiative to change the narrative and to rewrite our story. The campaign is about providing hope and most importantly, to create multipliers in the economy for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.”The Executive Director of BATNF, Ms Abimbola Okoya, said that the campaign was as a result of the exposure of desperate and increasing migration of youths out of Nigeria by the Cable News Network (CNN) during the wake of the “Libyan Slavery”.Okoya said that the recent violent attacks on Nigerians abroad was an issue and the campaign was expected to revive hope and patriotism in Nigerian youth about their nation and to inspire entrepreneurship interest in the agriculture sector.“Agriculture is the largest employer of labour and one of the fasted ways to build an army of prosperous people. There are opportunities to thrive in the sector and through the wealth is here campaign initiative, BATNF will expose young people to entrepreurial opportunities.“Also, advocate for policies that affect agric-preneurs and farmers, provide access to finance, markets and the technical support to encourage the establishment of viable business.“Through this initiative, we will show the youth and everyone who needs to know that wealth is here in Nigeria,” she said.Okoya encouraged everybody to be past of the campaign.The General Manager of BATNF, Mrs Ololade Johnson-Agiri, said that the objectives of the wealth is here campaign included: creating awareness of the Africa-prenatal opportunities in Nigeria; ignite the entrepreneur spirit in the youth generation, expose young people to admit-prenatal packaged available from public and private institutions and to revive the spirit of patriotism.The campaign strategies include government engagements, empowerment initiatives through the “Farmers for the Future (F4F)” and Lagos Farm Fair.The expected outcomes will reach five million Nigerians with the Wealth is Here message, promote business enterprises in agriculture, link potential entrepreneurs with access to finance and markets and empower at least 10 again-preneurs to establish viable business.Present at the event to express support for the campaign were Special Adviser to President Mohammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals; Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Affairs; National Orientation Agency were all represented.NAN reports that three recipients of the Farmers for the Future (F4F) to support their agriculture businesses.NAN also reports that N5,000,000; N1,500,000 and N1,000,000 were given to the first, second and third winners respectfully. (NAN)